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AthFest came to a close on Sunday evening after a massive weekend full of Athens music, June 26, 2022. (Photo/Jessica Gratigny; @jgratphoto)

The AthFest Music and Arts Festival 2022 opened back up on Sunday morning to welcome the city of Athens to see live music on the last day. The festival showcased much of the music and arts that Athens has to offer over the weekend and finally came to a close on Sunday.

The final day of AthFest began at Hendershot’s, which hosted the first annual Gospel Brunch for AthFest on Sunday morning. The Gospel Brunch featured music and also food for the attendees to purchase and enjoy. The music started at 11:30 a.m. with soul singer Ansley Stewart and continued with singer Marco Hull at 12:30 p.m. and gospel singer Sharmar Stevens as the final performance for the Gospel Brunch at 1:30 p.m.

The main area of AthFest along Washington Street saw its first show of the day from Brazilian band Bichos Vivos on the Wicked Weed Stage at 12:30 p.m. During the first few hours of the festival, the sky saw plenty of clouds that kept the AthFest crowd covered as they jammed out to each performer in the afternoon.

The Hull Street stage kicked off at 1 p.m. with Latinx folk musician Beto Cacao. Cacao was followed by violinist Annie Leeth at 1:50 p.m. Leeth brought to the stage a beautifully mesmerizing performance as she performed recording loops with her ukulele and background vocals. She would then play the violin on top of the looping tracks to create a very unique sound for the crowd on Hull Street.

Meanwhile, the Wicked Weed Stage kept a crowd for singer-songwriter Sarah Zúñiga at 1:20 p.m., country band Ty Manning and the Slawdog Biscuits at 2:10 p.m. and rock group Larry’s Homework at 3:05 p.m. The sun began to come out from behind the clouds during the performances and heated up the spectators who looked for shade to keep cool during each set.

The last day of the festival featured people of all types but mostly had a slightly older audience. Many of the bands and musicians that performed on Sunday were part of the older Athens music scene. There were only a few younger performers on Sunday, which contrasted the Friday and Saturday shows that were made up of mostly younger bands and musicians.

The crowd on Sunday kept the vendor’s tent area busy with many attendees going by each tent to shop much like the two days prior, and the vendors had plenty of exposure for their small businesses.

Cory Plott, a vendor at AthFest, came down from North Carolina with his small business Plottware Pottery to sell to the AthFest crowd. Plott has been coming since 2015 and had a successful weekend this year by selling many of his larger pieces that he brought down.

“Lots of people showing support. It's not just a river of people walking by with nobody saying anything,” Plott said. “They will at least talk to you and listen to you and want to know whether they buy anything or not, but a lot of people have been buying.”

The live music continued on the Hull Street Stage with Hunter Morris and Blue Blood performing at 2:40 p.m. and hip-hop artist Duddy Ken performing at 3:30 p.m.

The KidsFest stage held its final performances for the weekend as well with many young middle and high schoolers getting their chance to perform their talents to a lively audience.

On the Wicked Weed Stage, hip-hop artist ISHUES performed to the active crowd and had the audience sing along to the music as he tossed out t-shirts to some crowd members. ISHUES was inducted into the Athens Music Walk of Fame on Saturday and gave a heartfelt speech about his music career before his performance on Sunday.

As the evening came once again, the crowd grew slightly but not the same magnitude as Friday or Saturday. The Arcs took to the Hull Street Stage at 4:25 p.m. and were followed by country band The Howdies at 5:20 p.m.

Quiet Hounds, a large band with many instruments including a saxophone, a trombone, a tambourine, took to the Wicked Weed Stage at 4:55 p.m. They were followed by the Rick Fowler Band at 6:00 p.m. Fowler, the lead man of the band, is 70 years old, but that did not stop him from shredding on the guitar and jamming out with his band for the AthFest crowd. 

Athenian Anne Dorland has been to AthFest on all three days this weekend to experience the atmosphere for the first time since moving to the Classic City. She was told about the festival by many people and believes that it has lived up to the hype.

“I have a lot of friends and colleagues who love Athens and one thing that they always told me about when I was moving here was AthFest,” Dorland said. “They said it was like a great family friendly event with good music and good energy all weekend. I feel like that has been pretty accurate.”

For the last show of the weekend on the Hull Street Stage, Wonderland Rangers put on one of the wackiest and unique performances of the entire weekend. The energetic group can fall under many genres, but they rocked the stage and gave the crowd fast-paced music to dance to. The crowd was made up of a lot of older people and their kids but that didn't stop any of them from dancing to their heart's content.

Before the final performance of the evening, AthFest Educates staff took to the Wicked Weed stage to thank everyone for coming out the entire weekend and all of the love and support that they received. They also said a final goodbye to the AthFest Educates executive director Jill Helme, who will be leaving the position this year after eight years.

Tara Stuart, volunteer coordinator at AthFest, had nothing but praise for how the weekend had gone with merchandise selling out by Sunday morning and many volunteers showing up to help the event.

“It has been amazing. We were all hopeful that we would have a lot of people come and be excited because we haven’t had a festival since 2019 but were also aware we are living in a pandemic so we weren’t sure if people would come out,” Stuart said. “It has been incredible. People are here. They are spending their money. They are seeing the bands. It has been awesome.”

The final performance of AthFest took place at 7:10 p.m. with the Kevin Kinney Electric Band. Kinney, the lead singer of Drivin N Cryin, put on a great show for the crowd as he switched between folky acoustic tunes, including using a sleek 12-string guitar, and more blues rock tunes as well. Kinney sang many of his most popular songs for the audience including the Drivin N Cryin hit “Straight to Hell”. 

After Kinney performed his last song, Helme took to the stage and held back tears in thanking the audience for such a successful weekend and signed off on this year’s AthFest weekend. The crowd cheered and began exiting the festival as staff and volunteers took down the stages, tents and packed up their gear one last time.

The return of AthFest gave plenty of excitement, enjoyment and hope to the Athens community throughout the weekend. AthFest will return next year for their 25th anniversary of the famed festival.